Kipper

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A kipper is a whole herring, a small, oily fish,[1] that has been split from tail to head, gutted, salted or pickled, and cold smoked.

In the United Kingdom and North America they are often eaten grilled for breakfast. In the UK, kippers, along with other preserved fish such as the bloater and buckling, were also once commonly enjoyed as a high tea or supper treat; most popularly with inland and urban working-class populations before World War II.

Contents

Terminology

The English philologist and ethnographer Walter William Skeat derives the word from the Old English kippian, to spawn. The origin of the word has various parallels, such as Icelandic kippa which means "to pull, snatch" and the German word kippen which means "to tilt, to incline". Similarly, the English kipe denotes a basket used to catch fish. Another theory traces the word kipper to the kip, or small beak, that male salmon develop during the breeding season.

As a verb, "to kipper" (see kippering) means to preserve by rubbing with salt or other spices before drying in the open air or in smoke. Beef or other meat preserved in this fashion can reasonably be called "kippered."

Origin

The exact origin of kippers is unknown, though fish have been slit, gutted and smoked since time immemorial.[2] According to Mark Kurlansky, "Smoked foods almost always carry with them legends about their having been created by accident—usually the peasant hung the food too close to the fire, and then, imagine his surprise the next morning when …".[3] For instance Thomas Nashe wrote in 1599 about a fisherman from Lothingland in the Great Yarmouth area who discovered smoking herring by accident.[4] Another story of the accidental invention of kipper is set in 1843, with John Woodger of Seahouses in Northumberland, when fish for processing was left overnight in a room with a smoking stove. These stories and others are known to be apocryphal because the word "kipper" long predates this. Smoking and salting of fish—in particular of spawning salmon and herring which are caught in large numbers in a short time and can be made suitable for edible storage by this practice; predates 19th century Britain and indeed written history, probably going back as long as humans have been using salt to preserve food.

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